Donnell Whittenburg earns bronze medal in vault at gymnastics world championships

Associated Press
Baltimore's Donnell Whittenburg won the bronze medal in men's vault at the world gymnastics championships.

Faced with the prospect of coming back with nothing to check at customs, Baltimore's Donnell Whittenburg won the bronze medal in men's vault Sunday at the world gymnastics championships.

The 21-year-old Edgewood graduate thundered off the vaulting horse with enough power to make the nearest tackling sled shiver. When he drilled his second vault, he flexed in relief.

"We never want to come here empty-handed," said Whittenburg, who finished behind two-time champion Se Gwang Ri of North Korea and Marian Dragulescu of Romania. "Definitely a little relief for the men's side to bring back some hardware."

American Danell Leyva finished second in the high-bar final.

Simone Biles, meanwhile, set the record by a female for career gold medals by winning the balance beam and floor exercise.

The 18-year-old now has 10 golds in all, breaking the mark held by Svetlana Khorkina, Gina Gogean and Larisa Latynina.

The three-time all-around champion posted a score of 15.358 on beam, more than a point better than silver-medalist Sanne Wevers of the Netherlands and bronze-medalist Paulin Schaefer of Germany. The margin was nearly as big on floor exercise, where her score of 15.800 beat Russia's Ksenia Afanaseva by seven-tenths. American teammate Maggie Nichols earned the bronze.

The two golds during the event finals gave Biles 14 total medals since she made her debut at the championships in 2013. She has won four gold medals at each of the past two world championships, more than any other country during that span.

For now, there is only a brief but well-deserved break. Then it's on to that distant speck on the horizon, which isn't much of a speck anymore.

The Olympics loom nine months away. Barring injury, Biles will head to Rio de Janeiro as an overwhelming favorite and with the pressure that comes with it. Yet if there's anything she has proven during her run at the top, it's nothing she can't handle.

"I think I've done a pretty good job at masking it over the years," Biles said.

The U.S. women won at least one medal in each event. Reigning Olympic champion Gabby Douglas took silver in the all-around behind Biles, with Madison Kocian sharing gold on uneven bars.

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